Saturday, October 12, 2013

Christmas in Apple Ridge

by Cindy Woodsmall
Waterbrook Press

Experience the holidays with the Plain folk of Apple Ridge, Pennsylvania, in these touching novellas centered around love, romance, heartache, and restoration from best-selling author Cindy Woodsmall. 

The Sound of Sleigh Bells

Beth Hertzler is unable to let go of a past tragedy, but when she discovers a large, intricately carved scene of Amish children playing in the snow, something deep inside Beth’s soul responds. Determined that her niece meet the gifted artist, her aunt tracks him down, but it’s not that simple – will Jonah be able to offer Beth the sleigh ride she’s always dreamed of and a second chance at real love?

The Christmas Singing
Mattie thought her childhood sweetheart adored her until he abruptly ended their engagement on Christmas Eve. Brokenhearted, Mattie moves away and pursues her longtime dream of becoming a cake decorator, and even finds a new beau. But when Mattie is forced to return home three years later, will learning the truth behind Gideon’s rejection restore her Christmas joy – or open the door to even deeper heartbreak?
The Dawn of Christmas
Sadie enjoys her freedom away from home and her mission trips to Peru, but after four years, her Old Order Amish family insists it’s time to come home and settle down. Levi, a bachelor who distrusts women after a family heartbreak, also has no desire for romance. To keep their families from meddling in their lives, Sadie and Levi devise a plan—but soon discover that the walls around their hearts are breaking down. Can they let go of their prejudices, learn to trust each other, and embrace a future together?

My review:

Let me be honest and put it out there that I am not a Christmas fan. Maybe it's because I work in retail, or because I didn't grow up with a traditional Christmas. But I don't see the point, and it just isn't a special or magical time for me. That being said, despite this omnibus being portrayed as a Christmas novel, I almost didn't want to read it. But I was pleasantly surprised to discover that while the stories lead up to and end at Christmas, the novellas did not center solely around the holiday. This factor was my number one reason for absolutely loving this work of fiction. 

In the first novella, I had a time of an afternoon laughing at the relationship between Lizzy and Beth. They might as well have been mother and daughter, instead of aunt and niece. But Lizzy's antics and ideas had me hooting with laughter while I eagerly anticipated what would happen with the "Old Man" woodcarver. A very enjoyable way to spend a quiet evening, fast paced, but with developed characters and great back stories. 

In the second story, Gideon and Mattie have been at odds for years. Gideon's betrayal still stings, and Mattie is not ready to forgive him. Knowing the truth will not ease her pain, but he has a side to the story he wants to tell. When circumstances force her to return home, she is also forced to come to terms with the past. I felt that these characters just drove each other crazy at some points in the story, but it was also a very enjoyable read. 

In the last novel, Sadie catches her beau in a compromising position with her cousin. Angry and unwilling to remain in Apple Ridge, Sadie packs up and heads to Peru on a mission trip. She loves the work and the people there, but home beckons when her parents want her to return and get married. Levi, a neighbor, is also trying to convince his family he does not need a wife, and he and Sadie soon join forces to remain single. The concept of this one also got me laughing at several points, as it is rather humorous how two single people are determined to make it NOT happen. 

A lot of laughs and good writing came forth in this omnibus, and I have to say I really enjoyed the entire work immensely. 

This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review

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